I'm relatively new to this whole Stack Overflow thing, but I joined primarily to ask questions related to and . Unfortunately, I quickly learned that it was quicker to answer my questions myself, and that even at my relatively low level I am one of the more frequent users (ranked #8 for top users of and #21 for ). Over the past 2 months, I've provided 44 answers to questions that aren't my own.

Of those 44 answers:

  • 14/44 (31.8%) are accepted
  • 18/44 (40.9%) have upvotes
  • 10/44 (22.7%) are accepted and have at least 1 upvote
  • 20/44 (45.4%) are not accepted and have no upvotes

I am not going to pretend all my answers are perfect, but I think the issue is less the quality of the answers, but the unpopularity of the tags and the lack of experts to recognize the appropriate answer, and the amount of people who came in (like me) expecting to find a slightly more bustling community and slightly quicker responses.

Perhaps I just don't understand the system and/or need more patience, but it seems as if almost 50% of the answers I provide are just ignored.

So the question becomes, for unpopular tags like this, what should I be doing better? Is this just a matter of continuing to try to answer questions as best as possible to build more users for these tags? Is it just a time thing?

  • 2
    I definitely empathize with your frustration, but this may be one of those "c'est la vie" things, I didn't read your responses, but it's likely that you're not doing anything wrong, so give yourself credit that you may help someone with your answer someday (I'll be the first to admit I like rep, but it isn't the only measure of a man, so to speak).
    – jonsca
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 1:25
  • 4
    You are going to be an lonesome unsung hero.
    – juergen d
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 1:28
  • 1
    A large part of the frustration stems from the thought that even if someone does stumble upon the thread in the future, the fact that it hasn't been accepted or upvoted will devalue the answer. After all, if it were helpful, wouldn't someone have agreed and given it an upvote already? Is it even worth trying? Looking at more popular tags, you have upvotes left and right, and improving answers as well as multiple answers to the same question. This makes it an even better resource as it refines answers. None of that happens with unpopular tags...
    – jmac
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 1:28
  • I wish that was the case @juergend but the issue is that a large portion of the answers (68.2%) are not accepted, meaning I won't be getting that badge any time soon (or rather, until I have answered thousands of questions at this pace). And anyway, the goal on my side isn't to get badges to begin with, just to provide support to the one portion of the site I can actually answer questions about...
    – jmac
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 1:31
  • 2
    It happens in the popular tags, too, there's just a lot more volume in those. People are generally ingrates. They show up looking for a quick answer, they get it, and they leave. Thank you for taking an interest in that small tag community and doing your best with it, but I don't know that you can change human nature...
    – jonsca
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 1:31
  • Without changing human nature @jonsca is there any sort of system in place to bring attention to questions with answers that haven't been 'reviewed' for lack of a better word? Or perhaps, if a question has over X views (meaning people care about it), but it doesn't have an answer that has been upvoted or accepted, that it will pop up on a review list somewhere? Perhaps for users who have participated in that tag before and have over X reputation? That way at least popular questions would have a 'clear' answer...
    – jmac
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 1:40
  • the fact that it hasn't been accepted or upvoted will devalue the answer At least I don't think this is true. I frequently come across old, good answers that have no upvotes, and am always pleased to get to upvote them. Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 2:39
  • @jmac Again, a good idea in principle, but in terms of auto-accepting answers, the idea has been proposed many times and shot down. It's too hard to make a decision for someone else. In terms of voting, well, "community" does bump posts from time to time just to keep things circulating.
    – jonsca
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 2:45
  • Not auto-accepting necessarily, but allowing the question to be reviewed by someone if it's popular enough (over X views) and doesn't have an 'accepted' answer. This could be marked as 'this answer has been reviewed and accepted by member Y' where member Y is whoever reviewed it, or just upvoted, or whatever, but at least acknowledging that there is demand for the question, and it isn't just floating in the internet ether. Auto-accepting doesn't make much sense as stated, but reviewing popular questions does, no?
    – jmac
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 3:17
  • @jmac In tags with very low activity that might make sense, but changing the policy of the site as a whole would largely evoke a lot of wrangling for position and infighting for deciding who would decide, if you will. As it is now, it's not perfect, but it's at least a fair fight. I think the site needs something in this direction, but I've always been at a loss as to exactly what. There are definitely strong "rep economies" on this site, so perturbing the status quo might be called for, but could also cause a lot of problems.
    – jonsca
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 4:26
  • @jonsca I understand the sentiment, but find it disturbingly like a real office when I hear things like "it's not perfect, but it's at least a fair fight". In the little world I live in, the goal should be to create a resource that makes it easier to find and access good answers to make this a better resource in the future. There are 20 billion places on the net to answer simple questions on Javascript. There are far fewer for less popular things (like google-charts) Shouldn't the focus be on the latter over the former if SO is going to be most useful?
    – jmac
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 4:33
  • @jmac I think if you have an airtight feature request, you should definitely make a new question with it and see what people think. I don't think there's anything "office" about allowing the OP to choose their answer, I think the "community comes along and deems an answer worthy" approach is more "office" to be honest. Again, I think at the core, you've got the right idea, and by and large I agree that something should change, but without a concrete proposal, it's going to be hard to drum up support for it. Right now, we're just sitting down and saying the equivalent of "poverty sucks."
    – jonsca
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 4:57
  • @jonsca not airtight, but I gave it a shot anyway here. Just for reference, I'm not trying to take away the right for the OP to pick the answer (that should come first), but if a question has been getting 5 views a day for a year, the OP is long gone, and the only answer works, it should be marked as so for those who find it, so they know better.
    – jmac
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 5:38
  • Please take a look at my new kind-of related question - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/197015/…. I would like to hear your opinion: Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 3:57

1 Answer 1


if an answer hasn't been accepted in a reasonable time (eg a month), I tend to "ping" the original poster by commenting on the question and explaining:

a) how to accept an answer (ie explain the tick box to the left of the answer) b) why it's good for them to accept their answers (ie that it'll lead to people being more likely to help them in future).

It doesn't always work - but I do get a few more accepts this way.

  • I'll give it a shot, but a lot are first-time askers, and they disappear from SO in a hurry.
    – jmac
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 3:15
  • Unfortunately it didn't work too well. I've already gotten my 'unsung hero' badge only a few months after joining...
    – jmac
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 8:30
  • Sadly not a foolproof method - it only works on those that return and care. However it is better than nothing - and don't forget that some of those people will come back eventually for a second question sometime... it just might take a while.
    – Taryn East
    Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 3:46

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